Top 10 Digestive Issues for Women

UW Health women's digestive disease expert Sumona Saha10. Diet/nutrition issues

9. Stress
8. Heartburn
7. Upset stomach
6. Diarrhea
5. Bloating
4. Constipation
3. Gas
2. Pain
1. All of the above!


These are the top 10 digestive issues suffered by women, according to Sumona Saha, MD, UW Health gastroenterologist and women's digestive disease expert.


"Occasional digestive problems are normal," says Dr. Saha. "Everyone experiences upset stomach, gas, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea from time to time. These problems may be uncomfortable or embarrassing but fortunately, many are temporary and not due to a serious condition."


For women with persistent digestive symptoms, the list of possible causes is long–including both gastrointestinal (GI) and gynecologic disorders - and could be signs of a serious underlying digestive disorder or other health condition.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common GI disorders diagnosed in women, but multiple treatments are available. Dr. Saha recommends a visit with a gastroenterologist for patients who have experienced the following issues for 12 weeks (or more) in the past 12 months:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, including two or more of these issues:
    • Improvement with defecation
    • Onset associated with a change in stool frequency
    • Onset associated with a change in stool form
  • Other IBS symptoms may include:
    • Abnormal stool frequency (more than three times a day or less than three times per week)
    • Abnormal stool form (more than 25 percent of all defecations), abnormal stool passage (straining, urgency, feeling of incomplete evacuation more than 25 percent of all defecations)
    • Passing mucus (more than 25 percent of defecations).

Multiple treatments are available, including diet management, medications and non-medical interventions such as cognitive therapy and hypnosis.


"If you’re experiencing these symptoms, schedule a visit with a gastroenterologist," says Dr. Saha, "and keep working with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you."

Date Published: 03/26/2014

News tag(s):  digestive healthsumona saha

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